One of the visions of the UK government is to ensure quality health as well as safety to its citizens. Over time, the government has always put in place measures that ensure health security to its citizens and continuously reviews them to ensure consistency with their purposes. This document discusses the application of the IPDS in the Fire and Rescue Service in the UK. It analyses its validity and benefits in ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery and management of the fire and rescue service providers. The document also discusses HSG 65 as an alternative quality assurance system that could be used to substitute the IPDS. It describes the possible advantages that the approach could bring to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and how it could be applied in the company.
The document sets out issues that need to be addressed to ensure improvements in the fire and rescue service programmes.
In the UK, particularly in England, several government and governmental agencies monitor the local services provided by the government. The Fire and Rescue Service for example, is monitored by the Audit Commission, the Department of Communities, and the Department of Local Government among others. The Comprehensive Area Assessment was implemented to bring the work of all these watchdogs together. However, the new government feels that the Comprehensive Area Assessment causes confusion and therefore made an announcement in May 2010 that there are plans to shift to a new quality assurance system to guide the Fire and Rescue Service (Audit Commission 2).
According to the Department of Communities and Local Government (8) the government is committed to improving efficiency in delivery of public services and therefore continues to introduce fresh approaches. The Fire and Rescue Service needs to be more flexible in addressing future challenges associated with fire emergencies and implementation of fire control. The Fire and Rescue Authorities have to meet the requirements of national resilience through co-ordination and integration of service delivery.
They have to give priority to equality and diversity in their service delivery and have to invent and adopt more efficient ways of prevention, protection as well as response in ensuring safer communities as outlined in the Fire and Rescue Service National Framework by applying the Standards defined in the Regulatory Reform Order of 2005 and the Fire and Rescue Services Act of 2004. The National Framework also requires efficient and effective governance as well as continuous improvements in the Fire and Rescue Service (Department of Communities and Local Government 10). According to the Department of Communities and Local Government (7) the Fire and Rescue Service has had several achievements since the integration of Integrated Risk Management Planning (IRMP) with local risk assessment in 2003. It has become more professional, flexible and efficient in its service delivery over the last few years, an indication that the Comprehensive Area Assessment has able to achieve its objectives.
The document takes a qualitative analysis of the quality assurance system that has been applied by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. It uses secondary resources mainly printed materials, to propose the best quality assurance system that could substitute the current approach applied by the organization.
Merseyside County Fire Brigade was formed in 1974 by the Local Government Act of 1972 and since then has undergone significant changes to better meet the needs of the community as regards to fire and rescue services.
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service provides various services to Merseyside and its environs. The services include fire extinguishing, arson prevention, providing fire safety advice to homes and installing fire alarms in homes and buildings, providing emergency services in road accidents, rescuing victims of incidences, providing nutritional education to communities and providing internet communication services to the public among others. MFRS was the first Fire and Rescue Service to achieve a Beacon Authority in recognition of its services to older people.
MFRS is committed to achieving its objectives through empowering its workforce, engaging communities in its fire safety programmes, improving its technologies and the quality of its equipment as well as through efficient and effective management (Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (c) 2-53). Among the unique services provided by the MFRS is the Business Continuity Management which allows the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority to operate in case of a major business interruption. MFRS defines a major business interruption as a business interruption that may affect service areas of several sites or the whole site. It enables the directors to adopt specific Business Continuity plan in order to meet its obligations as stipulated by the Civil Contingencies Act of 2004. The Business Continuity Management provides an operational framework which can be used to ensure positive resilience to disruption, loss as well as interruption to its service delivery. This enables MFRS to continue supplying its services even if risks occur (Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (a) 1).
Over the past recent years, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority has applied the Integrated Personal Development System (IPDS) which was introduced by the government in 2004.
The system was approved by the government to achieve national standards in training and development of staff in the Fire and Rescue Service. The government believes that IPDS is the solution to the required reforms in the workforce management of the Fire and Rescue Service. It is meant to guide recruitment, training, progression as well as in-service development throughout an individual’s stay in the organization. The approach was also welcomed by the Local Government Association.
The quality assurance system is based on the national standards as well as the National Framework principles concerning the skills and competencies required in the Fire and Rescue Service providers (Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (b) 3-4). In Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, the system is applicable to all the staff no matter the role they play in or for the organization. Training is based on the unique roles and needs of each individual.
IPDS enables MFRA link the skills of their employees with areas of modernisation through continuous training and development.
The skills are made to reflect the diverse needs of fire fighting and rescue services. The system also enable MFRA to focus its attention on risk management as well as community fire safety as stipulated in its Integrated Risk Management Planning document ( Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (b) 2). IPDS ensures comprehensive assessment of individuals to be recruited or selected for positions to make sure that those chosen to perform the particular jobs can provide the needed outcome. MFRA ensures that the people they recruit or select for the particular jobs can actually do them. They have to assess an individual’s life and job skills carefully. MFRA also ensures that members of its staff receive the support and advice they need all through their carrier; be it tactical or strategic advice.
This enhances continuous learning and development in the staff. IPDS also ensures that the unique needs and contributions of an individual are recognized (Deming 43). The organization acknowledges that what can fit an individual may not fit the next person due to differences that exist in individuals. MFRA identifies and develops the unique needs of each individual to make them more competent in their job performances (Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (b) 7). This helps MFRA in empowering and motivating its staff to provide quality services.
IPDS is based on the idea that development of the human resource is the key to achieving an organization’s objectives. MFRA therefore believes that development of its staff would better help it achieve its strategic goals. It therefore focuses on recruiting the most qualified individuals and developing their skills through its accelerated development scheme. Members of staff who are identified to have the potential to rise to strategic management level are given appropriate management skills and experience during early stages in their carriers (Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (b) 7).
This enhances morale in employees and they therefore become more committed to their roles in the organization in ensuring safer communities. The approach also helps reduce safety risks to members of staff. MFRA provides training that enables its employees acquire competence which help them deal with all the related activities in their areas of work, thus they become relatively safe. Therefore IPDS enables MFRA reduce potential hazards and risks in the workplace and in its service delivery (Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (b) 7).
HSG 65 can provide the needed and more appropriate quality assurance system to monitor the activities of MFRS in place of the IPDS quality assurance system. The IPDS system that had been adopted by the MFRS is limited to quality and improvement of the workforce without considering other aspects of the organization which are also significant in achieving efficiency its service delivery. HSG 65 will help monitor and guide management practices which are the foundation to effective health management as well as safety management and will also help address improvement of the organization’s programmes by ensuring continuous self-audit of its service delivery and its other business processes.
HSG 65 helps control all the organisational factors and process which include planning, organising, implementing, measuring performance as well as auditing and reviewing of the organisation’s performance to ensure quality health and safety management. It ensures quality control to make sure that the organisation’s health and safety management processes are in line with its policy. Besides, HSG ensures that the policy of the fire and rescue authority covers all aspects of the organisation’s processes and that the policy addresses commitment to continuous improvement (Health and Safety Executive 7-9). According to MFRA’s Integrated Risk Management Plan Consultation Document for 2011-2014, the organisation plans to achieve more effective and efficient emergency response so as to reduce risks and to also respond to medical emergencies. It plans to continue engaging the community in its service programs through consultations and by coordinating its activities with responsible persons who live in high risk areas to acquire information. In its attempts to achieve community safety, it is developing software that will predict where fires are bound to occur across Merseyside so as to implement prevention and mitigation measures for those areas.
It also plans to incorporate young people and volunteer teams in its community safety programmes. MFRS also aims to cooperate with other neighbourhood fire service within Liverpool District as well as other agencies in enhancing its services and its private finance initiative. It plans to offer internet services to the community to enhance its communication with the community. Besides, it will provide education on healthy eating as well as safe cooking. MFRS also aims to achieve efficiency in its financial operations so as to meet the requirements of its services under tight budget as the government plans to reduce funding to the department of Fire and Rescue Service (Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (C) 9-37).
These are just among the services that MFRA plans to offer, implying that IPDS quality assurance system can not effectively help control all its activities and business processes.
HSG 65 will help support human resource development in the organisation. The approach believes that health and safety policy of an organisation should align its human resource management to ensure commitment to promoting the well-being of the workforce.
The approach helps an organization achieve job restructuring that increases flexibility in service delivery. The system also ensures that the employees’ workplace is safe and that they achieve job satisfaction (Health and Safety Executive 12). This makes the workforce more committed and competent to prevent accidents, protect the community from risks and effectively respond to emergency needs. This would make the company achieve efficiency in its workforce. HSG 65 through its total loss approach will enable MFRA identify the potential causes of accidents or interruptions and therefore develop effective prevention as well as loss control. MFRA will be better placed to identify the impacts of the probable losses that could result from such business interruptions and therefore formulate and implement feasible continuity strategies. Thus HSG 65 will enable MFRS develop continuity plans that will ensure delivery of services even during business interruption incidences. The approach emphasizes on the need to learn from accidents as well as incidences to realize effective control (Health and Safety Executive 12).
HSG 65 will also help MFRS integrate the needs and expectations of other stakeholders including the community and other agencies in its service delivery programmes. The approach is based on the belief that organizations should recognize the legitimate interests of its stakeholders who in this case include the community, the watchdogs and other related agencies (Health and Safety Executive 11). Efforts aimed at meeting the expectations of stakeholders will encourage increased innovations and consultations aimed at achieving community safety. The approach will also help support quality initiatives through efficient evaluation processes aimed at ensuring continuous improvements (Health and Safety Executive 11). Since the organization offers many programmes and is also involved in other projects, HSG 65 will help the organization in evaluating the feasibility and sustainability of theses projects. The approach will also help the organization achieve workplace safety by reducing risks from accidents through effective and efficient management.
The approach is founded on the idea that ill health, accidents as well as incidents occur due to failures in management control (Health and Safety Executive 11). Thus, the organization will be better placed to identify the quality gaps in its management and implement corrective measures. MFRS will also be able to adopt better strategic plans which will enable it provide its services under tight budgets as the funding to the department by the government may be cut down in the new coming years.
The quality assurance system applies its systematic approach in implementation processes. It based on the idea that planning is the basis for effective implementation. The approach will be applied in developing policies for the organization’s business processes and service delivery programmes.
It will also be applied in controlling risks and in ensuring that resources are deployed according to degree of risks. The systematic approach will be applied in measuring the performance of the organization and in measuring each operation that the organization undertakes against its objectives by setting up appropriate monitoring procedures. The approach will be employed in setting realistic plans for implementing its programmes and achieving its objectives (Health and Safety Executive 17).
In achieving efficiency in human resource, the approach will be employed in guiding recruitment, training, selection, development as well as transfer of employees. It will also be used in organisational restructuring aimed at placing people in positions they can best serve in as well as in allocating adequate resources for training of the staff. It will also be employed in developing financial loss-control as well as cost-reduction strategies through proper financial planning and effective budget control (Health and Safety Executive 18).
HSG 65 will provide the most appropriate replacement for the Comprehensive Area Assessment approach that the government plans to abolish since the approach covers all the business processes and service delivery of fire and rescue service. It provides for self-assessment by the organizations as well as external monitoring of activities of the organizations without confusing the roles of each monitoring agency or body. It recognizes the contributions of each agency in ensuring quality health and safety management.
Audit Commission. Comprehensive Area Assessment.
Audit Commission, 2011. 03 February, 2011. http://www.audit- commission.gov.uk/localgov/audit/caa/Pages/default.
aspx Department of Communities and Local Government. Fire and Rescue Service National Framework 2008-11. West Yorkshire: Communities and Local Government Publications, 2008. Print. Deming, Edwards. Out of the crisis: quality, productivity and competitive position, Cambridge, Mass: Cambridge University Press. 1986. Print.
Health and Safety Executive. Successful health and safety management. HSE, 2008. 03 February, 2011. http://www.lustedconsulting.ltd.
uk/hsg65.pdf Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (a). Business Continuity Management Policy and Process.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, 2011. 03 February, 2011. http://www.merseyfire.gov.
uk/aspx/pages/business_continuity/businessContin uity.aspx Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (b). Integrated Personal Development System. Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, 2011. 03 February, 2011. http://www.merseyfire.gov.
uk/aspx/pages/ipds/ipds.aspx Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (c). Integrated Risk Management Plan Consultation Document 2011-2014. Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, 2011. 03 February, 2011.